2 Alcala relatives fall in drug bust
LUCENA CITY—Two relatives of former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and incumbent Quezon Rep. Vicente Alcala were arrested in a drug bust in Tayabas City on Sunday, a month after the officials’ brother and nephew surrendered to the police amid the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Maria Fe Abutin Alcala, 58, and daughter Toni Ann, 33, sister-in-law and niece, respectively, of Proceso and Vicente, were arrested by undercover police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents in a buy-bust operation in the family’s house in Tayabas, said Senior Supt. Antonio Yarra, Quezon provincial police director.
Yarra said Maria Fe is the wife of Cerilo “Athel” Alcala, a brother of Proceso and Vicente.
On Aug. 14, Cerilo and his son, Sajid, the top two suspects on the drug watch list of the Lucena City police, surrendered to authorities. Vicente accompanied them to the city police station.
Yarra said Toni Ann was classified as a “high-value target” on the drug watch list of the Quezon police.
Seized from them were 24 plastic sachets containing “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride), weighing 115 grams and worth P212,750, and drug paraphernalia.
Yarra said an undercover policeman went to the suspects’ house in Leveriza Subdivision in Barangay Isabang, Tayabas City to buy shabu. Toni Ann met with the buyer at 9:50 p.m. and later went to the family’s house to get sachets of shabu from her mother.
Yarra, in a press conference, said the arrest of the suspects was prompted by information supplied by drug pushers who surrendered to the police recently.
A source in the local police’s intelligence unit said police have been receiving reports that the illegal drug operation of some members of the Alcala clan continued, despite the recent surrender of Cerilo and Sajid.
“They are now using dummies in their operation,” said the source, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The source declined to identify other members of the clan suspected to be involved in trading illegal drugs, saying the police do not want to disrupt ongoing operations to arrest them.
“I advised them to surrender. They can’t hide forever,” Yarra said in a telephone interview. “Our antidrug campaign excuses no one.”
Yarra said the police are running after at least 80 high-value targets in the province.
“We’ve already arrested half of them. In six more months, hopefully, we will arrest the rest,” he said.
Some members of the Alcala clan lamented that the involvement of their relatives in illegal drugs had dragged other family members into the mess.
“Not all Alcalas are into illegal drugs … But we can’t do anything except to explain and [continue to] explain to the public that we’re innocent,” a clan member told the Inquirer.
“No matter how bad they are, they are still our relatives. I don’t want to offend them,” he said.
Lucena City Mayor Roderick Alcala, whose late father was the Alcala brothers’ first cousin, was earlier linked to the controversy after a newspaper reported that he was also involved in the illegal activity.
Yarra, however, cleared the mayor of any drug link.
Roderick had ordered the arrest of Cerilo and Sajid.
Cerilo was arrested thrice on drug pushing charges. He stepped out of prison several years ago but police said he returned to the illegal drug trade.
Earlier, Vicente said his brother Cerilo and nephew Sajid decided to present themselves to authorities because their alleged involvement in illegal drugs had dragged the entire family into a “big scandal.”
Cerilo had denied the charges.
But police described the father and son as the “most influential drug personalities” in Quezon due to their political connection.
After their surrender last month, Cerilo was placed under hospital arrest due to two bench warrants on drug-related cases issued by local judges.
Sajid had no pending arrest warrant and was allowed to go home after his surrender. His father was also freed after posting bail.
At least 1,500 confessed drug pushers in Quezon have surrendered to the police and more than 150 suspected street peddlers of shabu were arrested.
More than 12,000 drug users have also submitted themselves to authorities and signed documents promising that they will reform.
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